Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pretty is As Pretty Does

Look at how pretty you are!
Aren't you a beautiful little girl!
You look just like a princess!

These seem to be some of the most common phrases said to girls under the age of 5.

We've all likely said them.
And there isn't anything inherently wrong with saying them.
Little girls are, in fact, pretty and beautiful.

But when heard over and over again these phrases have the potential to prematurely rob little girls of the coveted freedom they possess.  A freedom most adolescent girls and women desperately wish they still had. 

This freedom being THE freedom to not care at all about what they look like.  The freedom to walk into a room without fear of looking ugly, fat, or fashionless to those around them.  The freedom to not worry about whether the people around them think they look good or bad.  The freedom to have no inhibitions or insecurities where looks are concerned.

This picture of Allie is a perfect example of the freedom I'm talking about.  She was helping me fold laundry the other day and she single handedly put together this little outfit.  And yes that is her bathing suit over a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt (she added goggles later on for kicks). 

She wore this ensemble proudly for a neighborhood party I hosted that evening.  Never once did she worry about what she looked like.  Never once did she feel insecure.  She could have cared less about fashion or vanity.  She was just being a little girl, using her curiosity, imagination, and creativity. 

Ahhhhh, that type of freedom from obsessing about beauty is so refreshing.  I wish she could keep this freedom forever.

But we all know that's impossible.  Sin has corrupted our minds when it comes to beauty.  We worship it.  And for many, they are enslaved by it.  No matter how hard they try to avoid its deadly snare, they can't stop obsessing over it. 

As much as we'd like to hope and think it isn't, man's main measure of beauty is based on the outward appearance.  So the more our little girls hear these phrases, the more quickly they begin to measure their own beauty on the outward appearance.  At an earlier and earlier age, they become crippled by physical insecurities and enslaved by an obsession to become the perfect specimen of outward beauty.

So how do we protect our girls from all this?

How do we help them hold on to the freedom that little girls should still possess?

How do we transform their hearts and minds with God's definition of beauty: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

I believe we can start with a simple, yet profound, motto: 
Pretty is as pretty does.

I had a mom friend tell me recently that she uses this "Pretty is as pretty does" phrase with her 5 year old daughter all the time.  When her daughter has a nasty attitude and is acting selfish and unkind, with a gentleness and grace she explains to her daughter how ugly her attitude and actions are making her.

But when her daughter has shown kindness to her brother or put someone else above herself, she joyfully explains how beautiful her attitude and actions are making her.

The goal, she says, is to change the way her daughter thinks about and sees beauty.  "I want her to understand that the condition of her heart, and nothing else, determines her beauty.  In other words, I want her to understand that "pretty is as pretty does."  She consciously limits how much attention and emphasis is put on her daughter's outward appearance.  The most attention goes to the beauty of her daughter's heart.

I love this mom's approach.
It's full of God's wisdom.

For,

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about clothing oneself with the latest fashions...it's about clothing oneself with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Colossians 3:12).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about appearing put together and flawless on the outside (while being unclean and depraved on the inside: Matthew 23:27)...it's about having a pure heart to see God (Matthew 5:8).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about looking to become a particular size, shape, or style...it's about looking to Him.  For "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5).

Beauty, in God's eyes, isn't about maintaining a youthful appearance with an hour-glass figure...it's about trusting that although "outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day" by Jesus Christ himself (2 Corinthians 4:16).

In summary, God's Word teaches that when our daughter's clothe themselves with His virtues, when they strive to have pure hearts like His, when they look to Him above anything else, and when they trust that their relationship with Him is daily renewing them on the inside...then they are radiantly beautiful!

Will you join me today and let's pray about how our kids understand beauty!

Lord God,
I pray my kids would trust and treasure you're measure of beauty. May they grow to understand that You measure beauty, not from the outside, but by the condition of the heart.  In their hearts may they know and honor Your view of beauty: "Pretty is as pretty does."  May they beautify their hearts rather than their outward appearances.  I pray they wouldn't obsesses over outward appearances but rather that they would seek after and look to You with their whole hearts so that you can make them radiant and pure of heart.  And may they clothe themselves with those virtues of the heart like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

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